Ugh. Tottenham Hotspur scored the first goal in their home match against Southampton today, and then everything went wrong. Spurs put in an absolutely terrible defensive performance, conceded two second half goals from free headers in the box, and had a late equalizer from Steven Bergwijn called back for offside in a losing effort at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Son Heung-Min scored for Spurs (who also had an own goal), while Saints got goals from Armando Broja, Mohammed Elyounoussi, and Che Adams. The final score was 2-3.
This was not fun. Here are some of my notes.
- That was one of the worst defensive performances I’ve seen from Tottenham since Jose Mourinho. Just absolutely awful. The entire right side of Spurs’ formation — Royal, Sanchez, Winks, Lucas — looked like they had no idea what any of the rest were supposed to be doing out there. That right side was the fulcrum of most of the bad stuff that happened in the first half.
- Davinson Sanchez had an awful match and will get rightfully pilloried, but one of the main issues was the midfield — Soton was able to completely bypass Hojbjerg and Winks, which put an inordinate amount of pressure on the back line. Sanchez couldn’t cope, and even Ben Davies, who has been steady under Conte, had a comedic defensive gaffe. It got better once Rodrigo Bentancur came on, but Winks was a traffic cone the entire game.
- Romero was the closest thing to “good” in that back line — some good moments, but also nearly assisted Soton for another goal and probably should’ve picked up a yellow before halftime.
- Spurs’ two goals were very good team goals — The Patterns™ at work. Great no look pass from Lucas in the build up and good movement from Sonny to set up the own goal off Bednarek. The second one was from an excellent cross from Lucas to Son who made the late run behind the line. It was one of the rare times a Lucas cross was effective.
- There’s going to be some talk about whether Spurs’ second goal should’ve been called back for what looked to me like a pretty clear foul on Broja by Emerson Royal, but I think the main issue was that it happened in what was a distinct separate phase of play and hence couldn’t be reversed.
- I can’t figure out how Spurs were able to let Southampton get two free headers in their box for their late goals. Elyounoussi was either Winks’ or Kulusevski’s man; regardless, neither tracked him. And Adams just found space that shouldn’t have been there.
- Conte ultimately made the prescribed substitutions, but he did them at weird times — the formation was clearly broken at halftime and he waited until 61’ to make the sub (and subbed off the wrong midfielder). It’s a stretch to say that Conte lost the match, but he didn’t help it.
- Want to cling to something good? Bentancur is really good and also apparently a very good passer from deep positions. Maybe he should start.
- Calling back Steve’s goal was the right call, but it still felt like a kick in the teeth. Look, fair play — Spurs were AWFUL and Saints played very well. They 100% deserved the win.
- Next up: Wolves.